Arindam Chaudhuri
Daring To Think Beyond Harvard, IMF & World Bank

(To retain the smile from the child to the youth) In these days of criminals to the "Left", criminals to the "Right", criminals all around, we have reasons to be proud of our scientist President (also a poet), installed by a poet Prime Minister of ‘India Shining’ days. On the eve (25th January 2005) of Republic Day our President has called for an action plan to create 76 million jobs by 2010 in order "to retain the smile from the child to the youth". How the Planning Commission will react to the ‘call’ may only be guessed since it finds it extremely difficult to arrange fund for work for only 100 days a year (according to Govt. of India a person is assumed as fully employed if he finds employment for 273 days a year, 8 hours a day) for one member of the rural families below the poverty line (numbering around 7 crores). The same may cost the treasury around Rs. 42,000 crores annually at Rs. 60 (prescribed minimum wage) a day. After about six month’s debate and deliberations wise men in the Plan Panel (to call it Planning Commission in these days of ‘free for all’ market economy is too much of an aberration) have suggested to experiment in a few districts before it is given the status of a national project. Plan Panels’ Babus (with the status of minister of state) are too timid to be entrusted with any innovative and bold idea.

Poet Prime Minister used to promise 10 million jobs a year during his so called ‘shining’ tenure. Many wondered whether it was another poetry or a real intention to fulfil. The increase of the same by 50% (and no less) requires a kind of commitment to the people, which can rarely be expected from the current ‘conscientious’ cabinet guided by the ‘inner voice’.

In the days when the current economist Prime Minister studied, he was told that India is a land of abundant labour and scarce capital. This is no longer true. We have overflowing food grains to the tune of 60 million tonnes in our godowns, we are flush with unutilized funds in our banks and we have around $130 billion (approx Rs. 6 lakh crores) idle foreign exchange in our reserve.

Yet, the paradox is that we have failed to utilize our labour force. We are following the path of jobless growth to serve the interest of high-tech monopoly/oligopoly capital.

We seem to be quite happy that we have crossed the barrier of the so called Hindu Rate of annual growth of GDP of around 3.5%. We are happy that with 6 to 7% annual rate of growth of GDP, we shall be counted as a ‘developed’ country by 2035 (even if not by 2020, which our President dreamt in his Book "India 2020"). Since the upper middle class is shining, and loud laughters reverberate around the malls in new market places, our so called national newspapers are happy to quote studies from C.I.A. to instill confidence in the upper middle class readers. Yet, the national press has not bothered to highlight the President’s call meant to retain the child’s smile when they grow up as young Indian citizens.

IIPM think-tank takes this opportunity to share our Presidents noble dream and present an approach to create "Employment for All."

Since employment of one person in conventional brick and mortar industry requires around Rs. 1 crore investment per person, it is unthinkable that we can create jobs to the tune of 76 million in the next 5 years in these industries. The apparently booming Information Technology sector cannot also create so many jobs, since it depends on Business Process Outsourcing opportunities in developed countries.

Creation of 76 million jobs by providing an investment fund of approximately Rs. 1,50,000 crore over a period of five years could be possible only by creating employment in small scale, cottage and rural industries along with development of agriculture, food processing, forestry, fishery, animal husbandry, poultry etc. Investment required per employed person in such areas is in the region of Rs. 20,000/- or less, provided there is continuous sale of these products. This requires matching demand in step with flow of goods coming out of these new industries in the market. If goods could be delivered directly from the industry to the household, there would be no problem.

Problem arises out of the necessity to reach households via shops. Established shops, unsure of the demand of additional products will hesitate to store the additional goods. This could be overcome if some agencies buy up products at prices commensurate with quality and take the responsibility to sell them to the consumers inside/outside the country. It is not possible for a private agency to discharge this responsibility since no immediate sale at adequate profit margin is assured. In the same way as building infrastructure is considered to be the responsibility of the government because return on these investments is a long run potentiality, selling of goods produced by new industries initiated by small enterprises can be undertaken by the State. Town and Village Enterprises in China were helped by the Chinese State in their initial phase. State alone may consider distribution of unsold goods to households through public distribution system by entitlement coupons, if necessary. This is not a loss to the State since consumption by people is always a profitable activity from the viewpoint of the State’s objective of creating welfare for the people which is considered as a basic fulfilment of social responsibility.

In the process all that may happen is that a certain percentage of produced goods may remain unsold since structure of goods produced does not match with the structured demand of goods in local/ regional / national / international markets at a certain pattern of distributed income level among the population.

State alone can take the responsibility of absorbing the "so called" losses due to unsold goods and distribute the same at reduced prices or through entitlement coupons via public distribution shops.

This may mean accepting controlled inflation by which the public at large shares the cost of welfare and thereby retains the smiles of the child even when they grow up as youth. The youth thus found fruitful engagement possibilities and have been spared the fate of adding to the potential flow of criminals, who have created kidnapping network, the busiest business activity in Bihar (with an estimated annual turnover of around Rs. 40 crores). We have to respond to this need of the hour and take pertinent steps (as outlined above) to ensure that Bihar’s unholy shadow does not engulf rest of India making children weep and youth angry enough to set fire all around.
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